Rethinking Society Over a Cup of Coffee

Statement of Support to the Human Baricade by Mamanwa Community

February 5, 2009

Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Central Office: Visayas Avenue,
Diliman, 1100 Quezon City, Philippines

Through: Honorable Secretary Jose “Lito” L. Atienza, Jr

Greetings in the name of justice and peace!

Today is the eighth day of the human barricade of the 400 tribesmen of the Mamanwa community along the highway of Taganito, Claver, Surigao del Norte.

With them, we appeal to your good office for the fulfillment of their right to the one percent royalty of the gross output of the mining operations of the 3 companies (Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC), Oriental Synergy Mining Corporation (OSMC), Case Mining Company and Platinum Group Mining Company (PGMC)) operating in their 48,678 hectares ancestral lands.

We support them in their peaceful effort to fight for their rights as a people whose lives were very much affected by the operations of these mining firms, one even as early as 1960’s. We grieve that these people had to resort to this difficult means of protest which they consider their last resort in making their voices heard.

We condemn the fact that they were allegedly not properly informed of their rights based on the IPRA Law when they signed the Memorandum of Agreement with TMC entitling them to only P500,000 a year as “financial assistance”, when the one percent provision under the law is the minimum benefit that they should get.

We express our concern about the 5 members who were reported missing after they voluntarily returned to their camote farms to look for food for their fellow protesters. We feel for the community especially for their respective families.

We quote from the words of the tribe’s chieftain, “….we know how the justice system here favor the rich and the mighty.” May this be a challenge for us to prove that “justice for all” still reigns in our country.

We trust in the power of our liberating God that through your help, the long awaited justice be given to this people.

On behalf of the Social Action Center of Tandag Diocese,

Sr. Lydia L. Lascano, ICM
Social Action Directress
Diocese of Tandag
Surigao del Sure